When Wrestling Fans Attack
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The first time I ever witnessed a fan interjecting into a match was way back in May of 2002. 11 year old me had sat down to watch a re-run of Monday Night Raw. And I was most excited to see 2 of my absolute all-time favourites in Rob Van Dam and Eddie Guerrero face off in an Intercontinental championship ladder match. My excitement had reached fever pitch as the bout between these two iconic figures was continuing to more than live up to my young minded expectations. Then, as Eddie begun climbing up the ladder, reaching desperately towards the top a fan scrambled into the ring.
Slipping past security and making his way to the foot of the ladder, leaving Guerrero in a precarious situation. Quickly, the crazed man had pushed the ladder and Eddie with it toppling. Lucky for Eddie his agility and ring awareness saw him landing safely on his feet. Unluckily for the intruder, Guerrero was rightly furious. Landing a cracking punch to the incomer and sending his like a sack of spuds to the ground. The referee and security rushed to remove the man and the camera operators and editors did their best to draw attention away from the incident. But it was all there. Laid out for little old me to witness and it blew my mind. Was this a rival wrestler who I wasn’t familiar with, perhaps he was an old enemy of Eddie Guerrero dolling out revenge, or a new ally of Rob Van Dam aiding in his conquest of Intercontinental glory.
As an adult, I realise that this was simply a delusional and attention starved man in his mid thirties who was attempting to bring some extreme excitement into his probably dull life, but instead received a bruised face and an even more bruised ego.
However, as a chubby little 11 year old. My mind was racing. It alit within me a passion for the unpredictable nature and set me on the very course I am on today with these videos and that is why I wanted to cover this topic with you today.
Live entertainment in it’s many various forms is enjoyed by almost every person on the planet. From captivating musical concerts to gripping stage plays. There is something primitive within us which seems drawn towards experiencing these waves of powerful emotion, caught up in the atmosphere of a crowd. And pro wrestling may be the most pure and concentrated version of these emotions.
Every grappling show, when experienced live as part of an electric audience, brings out something within us wrestling fans which keeps us coming back for more, year after year. The anticipation before the shows first match. The jubilation of seeing our favourite stars perform. This disappointment when we see our heroes defeated and the anger we feel when they are cheated out of a victory. This roller coaster of emotions felt over the course of a 2 or 3 hour live show can feel exhilarating and contagious.
However, for some, these emotions go too far. The blurred reality between the glitz and glamour of sports entertainment, and the real feelings of the fans. Can sometimes lead to chaos. Moments of pure madness and a total blindness to most sense and logic. These deranged fans leap the guard rail or barrier, slide into the ring or even attempt to sneak through the backstage curtain to the locker room. Sometimes these fans are stupid. Sometimes they are delusional. But sometimes, they can be outright dangerous. And as fans of pro wrestling, we should always take a stand against this type of behaviour. But I want to find out just why when fans stop being just fans, it can end so badly. And why we all find it so exciting.
In this video, I want to explore why some fans decide to cross the invisible line between being a witness and becoming a participant. I want to see if there is a particular kind of person who is more inclined to want that spotlight for themselves and what their motives might be. We will look into some of the more unexpected, violent and ridiculous attempts by wrestling fans to attack pro wrestlers. And see what happens when these giant, muscled performers react with force.
But first, I want to get a particular type of fan attack out of the way. So we can focus on the real stuff. Because we all know, in the wonderful world of professional wrestling, most times, things aren’t always quite what they seem.
In the very early years of pro wrestling, following the first world war, touring athletes would take part in carnival exhibition matches, often going face to face with a local competitor in a real fight. Someone who would be picked out of the crowd for being particularly rowdy. However, shrewd wrestling promoters soon realised that they could bring 2 wrestlers to the show.
Have one in ring gear, ready to take on all-comers. And the second wrestler waiting in the crowd, shouting profanity and appearing drunk through the match. Conveniently, when it came time for the wrestling promoter to pick a new combatant to grapple with his prize fighter, the second wrestler from the crowd would be picked. This would ensure the safety of the performers, removing any chance that a random audience member might legitimately injure them. It also gave way to the era of predetermined bouts, which would be arranged before fans even begun showing up to the tent or field for the wrestling.
In the modern day, these predetermined members of the audience are often referred to as plants. The seeds of their actions being sewn by the promoter before the event, ready for them to flower later on.
When a wrestler is thrown forcefully by his opponent over the barricade and into the fans, often times, some of those fans are plants. Put there to protect the audience and intervene as first responders if something unplanned happens.
Did local law enforcement get called to the wrestling show you attended, to arrest a particularly vile bad guy. Well, you guessed it, those police officers were played by wrestlers and are a form of plant.
A key way to help us decide whether the crowd interaction was pre planned is by looking at how it is presented to us on television. Did the camera continue to follow the attack from a fan? Did the altercation play out over the course of a few minutes, with security unable to prevent the fan and wrestler coming to blows?
Are the announce team talking about the attack. If so, then you can almost certainly guarantee that the actions you are witnessing were scripted by the wrestling company to play out just as you are seeing them. Why would they want to keep filming if a genuine fan was attacking a wrestler?
One, it gives the spotlight to a person who is clearly trying to draw attention away from the pro wrestling shows fans have paid to see.
Two, it encourages other who have a similar desire for the spotlight to copy the actions of those they see getting screen time on television.
Three, if the fan does indeed manage to punch or grab a wrestler and tackle them to the ground, or worse injure them, then it makes the legitimacy of the pro athlete get called into question, why couldn’t this man who claims to be the best fighter in the world defend himself against a fat slob from the crowd.
And four, what if the wrestler does indeed defend themselves? What legal ramifications could present themselves if the wrestler was seen to be responding with too much aggression and they destroy the fan. That doesn’t look good on anyone. No. Much better to take the cameras focus away from any real crowd interaction and allow time for the incident to be dealt with whilst commentators or event staff attempt to engage the crowd.
Throughout the long history of pro wrestling. Many performers have started their on screen careers by pretending to be fans who were later called out from the crowd, or burst out through their own free will. The 9th wonder of the world and pioneer of female athletes, Chyna made her WWF debut as a muscled fan who got involved to strangle the unsuspecting Terri.
Who could forget the oh so forgettable run of Emma in WWE who after a successful spell in NXT was called up to the main roster with a character who was a super fan of the company. Holding up different Emma-centric plaquards at each event helped her get noticed by fans and commentators alike. However this somewhat clever routine eventually fizzled out and proved less Emma-taining than it had initially looked.
Rosa Mendes started as a mega fan for female wrestler Beth Phoenix, standing in the audience in support of her favourite wrestler, until she was eventually taken under the tutelage of her hero on her way to her own wrestling career.
Perhaps Beth was feeling charitable to the young Medes as she herself started her on-screen career with WWE as a fan in the crowd. Interjecting in a match where she attacked Mickie James and begun what turned out to be a short lived rivalry.
So, when might a plant, in the modern day, be used effectively in a pro wrestling story? I can think of no greater example than that of the Milan Miracle. On getting the call to go to the main roster: “It was nuts. I was in OVW and I was this Russian character. And I was driving to a live event and my phone rings, and it’s Mike Bucci. He’s like, ‘Boris, you’re really Italian, right?’ I go ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah’. I couldn’t really speak Italian well. They were like, ‘Can you say something in Italian?’ So I just said, ‘Voglio comprare mezzo chilo di formaggio,’ which means ‘I want to buy a half-kilo of cheese.’ It sounded good. But I could hear them looking around at each other going, ‘I don’t know, it sounded pretty good.’ So that was it. “
twist of luck would prove to be the defining moment in the young wrestlers career. As on 16th April 2007, Santino Marella was born and exploded onto the WWE scene as he Milan Miracle made one of the greatest debuts in the companies history.
“Next day they fly me out. I got the phone call Friday, flew out Saturday, landed Sunday, and debuted Monday. So it was like a crazy whirlwind of, ‘What just happened here?’ And I didn’t even believe it right up until it happened. Because I’m thinking, I didn’t want to almost believe it and something changes last minute. But yeah, it happened and that was it.
Vince with a snarling Umaga at his side announced on the microphone that he would be electing a member of the audience to prove their bravery and step into the ring up against his monstrous henchman for the intercontinental title.
“The show started and my segment was either the first or the second, I don't remember exactly. Either way, Vince McMahon's music sounded in the arena and fans rushed to the barricade at the speed of light. I was lost in the crowd, I had six or seven people in front of me, so I thought I had missed my chance. Fortunately, the situation quickly settled down and I was able to highlight myself.”
As Marella jumped the guard rail, the Italian home crowd couldn’t have been more supportive. He got in the ring and announced his name and hometown. Both declarations drawing rapturous reception from his countrymen in the audience. Powered through pure adrenaline and joy, Santino removes his shirt and we see that he isn’t merely some bum from the crowd. But with his bulging biceps and full back tiger tattoo, this guy looks the real deal. Caught up in the emotion of the moment, it was so easy at the time to ignore the fact that all of this moment was scripted. I fell deep into the belief that Santino Marella was indeed just a local fan and he was about to live out his dream. Oh how naïve I must have been.
Looking back, as soon as Santino rushes forward and begins to attack Umaga, the illusion was completely broken. Anyone who had ever seen a pro wrestler throw a fake punch knows exactly what that technique looks like. And this was it. A few swift kicks later and I knew that it was fake. However, Santino played the role so perfectly, the emotion on his face was so real, that I didn’t care.
Still to this day, as we see Umaga destroy Santino in the ring, it still fills me with anger, I feel like I am sitting in that Italian crowd shaking my fist and yelling alongside those angry fans that day.
Then, Bobby Lashley makes his way out and lays waste to Umaga. Pulling Santino across the ring for the pin. And a new intercontinental champion is crowned, in front of his home crowd, on his WWE debut. It really doesn’t get much better than that.
Marella cries tears of joy and looks an impressive figure as he celebrates his dreams coming true to the beloving applause of the fans. It’s obviously scripted. It’s probably the most pro wrestling-y thing that has ever happened. But I don’t care. I love it.
The downside to this Milan Miracle, is that in many of these crazed fans, who want to jump the barrier and make a name for themselves get confused. They believe that they can be just like Santino. That they may experience their very own miracle. But of course, that isn’t how any of this works.
Nowadays we are all well aware that pro wrestling is scripted. We know that the fan in the audience is most likely a wrestler in training and not in fact a random dad from Ohio. These fake fan attacks can sometimes feel so pre-rehearsed that they become more unbelievable somehow than an undead zombie grave digger or a worm eating voodoo monster. Perhaps it’s been done one too many times. Perhaps I’m just a cynical old wrestling fan. But for me, these fake fan attacks feel like a remnant of pro wrestling past and I’d be happy if they stayed there.
But, we aren’t here to talk about these fake fan attacks now are we?
BRET HART HALL OF FAME
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So, taking into account the fact that Bret is a man who has survived cancer and is in his 60s. Is a beloved part of so many people’s childhoods and an iconic part of pro wrestling’s history. You’d think he would get the respect that his long career deserves. Which he does. Until, well, he doesn’t.
Following the death of long time friend and former tag team partner Jim Neidhart, it was announced that both The Anvil and The Hitman would be inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame as The Hart Foundation. So in 2019, the night before Wrestlemania 35 the wrestling world was in a jubilant mood as it usually is when the traditional Hall Of Fame Ceremony rolls around. A night reserved for whom WWE feel is fitting as a true legend of the industry. A moment for fans and fellow wrestlers alike to pay respect to the hard work and dedication shown by some of pro wrestling’s most notable names.
At The Barclays Centre In New York. As Bret Hart made his way out in front of the crowd and stepped between the ropes, he was positively gleaming with pride. With Nattie Neidhart at his side to remember her father, it was a truly special moment and one which felt all the more emotionally taut considering Bret’s past with the WWE and Vince McMahon.
However, in one of the most pointless and sickening moments in recent wrestling memory. The joyful atmosphere was quickly turned to shock and then rage. As a pathetic man-child dressed in Rastafarian hat and fake dreadlocks rushed the ring. Grabbing onto Bret and forcing him to the ground. The entire event came to a screeching hault because this disgusting excuse for a human being decided that he was more important and that he needed the attention more than then men who all the fans had actually paid to see. It makes my blood boil. It makes me think less about the human race as a whole knowing that idiots like this are a part of it.
That is why, what happened next felt so satisfying. Now, I know that violence is never the answer. I have been a life long fan of pro wrestling, but in real life I would consider myself a pacifist. I know that we are conscious and intelligent creatures who should always attempt to use our minds and our mouth before ever considering to resort to using our fists. But sometimes. Sometimes. You just have to sit back and enjoy.
The 26-year-old who jumped into the ring that night was clearly deranged. He must have also been stupid. He attacked a man in his 60s as he was talking about the death of a close friend. Surrounded by thousands of fans who were all there to support Bret. But more importantly, The Hitman was surrounded on all sides by thick hunky security bros and a hoard of pro wrestlers who were just chomping at the bit to get their hands on him. But, even more importantly. Travis Browne a trained killer and ex UFC fighter was standing right there.
What happened next went just about as bad as it is possible to go for the young interrupter. Punches and kicks came from all sides as the men surrounding the ring sprang into action, continuing to layeth the smack down as he was dragged through the arena.
The crowning moment was when the man who was formerly known as Dash Wilder landed what can only be described as a well-deserved cheap shot on the attacker, causing him to go limp as he was carried away. Disgusting to attack someone when they aren’t looking. You never like to see someone get knocked out. It’s barbaric. Okay just once more.
"An over-exuberant fan surpassed our security at ringside and made his way briefly into the ring. The individual has been turned over to the proper authorities," WWE's statement read.
The New York police took the 26-year-old into custody where he was charged with two counts of third-degree assault and one count of criminal mischief. Bret, always the professional finished his speech. He then released a statement explaining that he was disappointed in the way in which things played out, but that he suffered no injury during the altercation.
"I'm so proud of my uncle tonight during our HOF ceremony. Bret is a cancer survivor, a stroke survivor and one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. He didn't deserve to be attacked or have his moment or my dad's diminished. We got it back on track. Thank you, guys," Natalya posted on Twitter.
"I didn't see the guy until it was too late. I could tell something was happening but I thought it was a fight in the crowd. You never take anything for granted. I consider myself lucky that it was as insignificant of an incident as it was. Everyone thought I got punched and hurt and manhandled by that guy but it was more the other way around, I think." Bret Hart
That delightful young chap is Elisah Spencer and as you heard, he did indeed squash the beef with Colby Lopez aka Seth Rollins. Well, in his mind he did anyway. See, when young Spencer jumped over the barrier and tackled the WWE superstar to the ground following a match between Seth Rollins and Finn Balor on Raw, he did so with the belief that He and Seth Rollins were involved in a long running argument on social media.
So, as any sane and logical person would do after having a heated disagreement on twitter. Elisah made bought a ticket for Monday Night Raw and made his way to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. With fire in his blood, his sat patiently whilst Seth Rollins and Finn Balor entertained the crowd. Then, when the time was right and with the most sensible decision this young man could have possibly made. Pounced. Using his agility and sheer power to tackle the unsuspecting Seth and take him to the ground where he belongs. Showing every wrestling fan around the world who truly was the greater man and putting a definite end to his grievances with Rollins.
“The guy who attacked Seth Rollins got scammed and catfished by a fake Seth Rollins account. Welp," Sean Ross Sapp tweeted.
Oh. So maybe Elisah should have thought this all through. You see. Not only is jumping the barricade and interfering in any form of live entertainment stupid and selfish. Elisah did so under completely false pretences.
He was pulled to away by security "WWE takes the safety of its performers very seriously," WWE officials said. Kicked and dragged and handed over to the New York City police. With WWE adding that “he will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
All because he didn’t think any of this through. He was messaging a person who was pretending to be Seth Rollins on social media. For a start. That’s weird. One, stop harassing celebrities on social media. Two, why would someone as busy as Seth Freakin’ Rollins have any time to deal with a silly argument with a fan online like this.
Did Elisah not check the page and see it was clearly a fake social media account he was interacting with. Clearly not. He ended up in a headlock and Seth Rollins looked completely unscathed from the incident. At least physically.
When Seth spoke out and explained his feelings on the situation, I found myself in complete agreement with the man. I can completely see how he feels and empathise with what a nightmare scenario it could have turned into. However, some old school wrestlers think that pro wrestlers should always be physically imposing over fans, easily able to fend off two or three in a bar room brawl in scuffle in a hotel corridor, just like the barbarity which they witnessed in their heyday.
"My problem with Seth is that if you're a top guy in this business, you never, ever get off an airplane in LA and say, 'I was terrified.' You were terrified or horrified by a wrestling fan? Come on, man!" Ric Flair
“Remember when the wrestlers were tougher than the fans?” Guerrero tweeted. “Ah, the good ol’ days.”
The world has changed. Pro wrestling has moved on. It should absolutely be forbidden for this type of attack to happen and Seth has all the right in the world to be shaken by the dangers of the incident. Being seen to be tough was the most important part of these old school wrestlers identity. But no longer do we see performers such as Seth Rollins as real life fighters but simply the characters they entertain us with on screen in the ring.
RANDY ORTON VS JOZI WRESTLING MACHINE
“Did you think it was a work!?… I got hit in the balls! Imagine standing on a tight rope and about to extend your arms out in the open to do your pose that people have recognized for almost a decade after a match that you have won in South Africa at the beginning of a five-day tour and as you’re completely in your own little world going, ‘Oh, I’m so glad it’s over’ because you can’t wait to go back to your hotel and take a shower and eat some catering… you get hit in the balls.” Randy Orton
During a tour of South Africa with WWE in 2013, Randy Orton was facing off against Big E. In a winning effort which saw Orton get the pin. As is tradition, The Viper needed to make his theatrical exit and more importantly strike his infamous pose. But as he attempted to do so a fan clambered into the ring and put a rather blunt end to the special moment.
"Why did I jump on the stage? That is the question at the moment," Orton’s attacker began. "Randy Orton, wherever you are, man, you owe me. I’m The Wrestling Machine! I’m coming, Randy, and I will get you because everything I do in this world… I keep on shining, surviving!"
A 20-year-old local by the name of Tshepo Sekhabi was a local wrestler who regularly performed in Cape Town at the time. His profession as a wrestler through into question whether this entire ordeal was in fact part of the show. One fan who was in attendance wrote:
"I was at the Cape Town event last night, the incident with the fan and Randy Orton may be a work. The "fan" is a local wrestler called Blacksmith. He trains regularly (4- 5 days a week) at the gym where I am a manager.
Regardless, it has since been widely believed that even though The Black Smith was a local wrestler, he was in no way affiliated with WWE and was completely unscripted with his attack on Orton. Leaping into the ring and uppercutting The Legend Killer right in the testicles. Like a real wrestling machine. Arena security then leapt into action and gave Tshepo a good old fashion beat down. With Orton managing to get in a quick kick before his attacker could be dragged away.
He said after the event: “I just don’t like Randy Orton. This was an opportunity for me, so I got up there and made a name for myself."
Tshepo Sekhabi a man whose name you’ve quite literally never heard before certainly did make a name for himself. Well maybe not a name. But he did make some legal troubles for himself as well as being shunned by the local wrestling community. And he got a wicked black eye in the process. Keep on shining. Keep on surviving.
So why do people, almost always men. Feel like jumping from the crowd and attempting to make themselves part of the show, is a good idea. When, clearly, it isn’t. To get a better understanding, I wanted to look outside of the realms of the squared circle.
Pro wrestling isn’t by any means the only form of live entertainment which sees itself having fans go that extra step in order for them to enjoy the show. Think about the last big music concert you went to. If it was an event filled with energetic young people and diehard fans, then most likely you may have witnessed people climbing up on top of the other members of the audience and crowd surfing their way towards the front, cheering and posturing as they did so. Perhaps at a festival you saw a young woman flashing her boobs to the crowd, and on rare occasions perhaps the camera operator in attendance caught the breasts live to magnify on the big screen. Both of these moments come from people caught up in the atmosphere of the crowd and for the most part and completely harmless.
None the less, both are examples of ways in which people try to get the attention of the crowd away from the performers and onto themselves. But nudity as a way to interrupt a live event is nothing new.
In 1974 Host David Niven was interrupted by a naked man with a glorious moustache during the Oscars on live television.
The first ever instance of a person taking off their clothes and running onto a sports field to be captured on television. Happened in London at Twickenham stadium on April 20th 1975. When, during a
Bruce Perry, the police officer who can be seen in this photograph said of the incident: “I feared he would be mobbed, or that other people would follow suit. I felt embarrassed so I covered him up as best I could. It was a cold day – he had nothing to be proud of”.
At first, these naked escapades were met with ponderous giggles and the opinion of most was that they were just a bit of silly entertainment. However, as the popularity of streaking took off more and more live events were being temporarily paused whilst the naked nuisance was taken care of. This led to frustrations from performers and crowds alike. And although the allure of a streaker still brought with it cheers and laughter, it also started to be accompanied by a chorus of boos, as well as more serious measures being taken to shut them down fast.
Some athletes and musicians have even gone as far as dealing with the unwanted interruptions themselves. Leaving some over excited fans slammed to the floor and embarrassed in front of the very people they were presumably trying to impress.
But this seemingly did little to quell the enthusiasm of would-be exhibitionists. With the tradition of taking your clothes off, slipping onto the sports field, and attempting to evade capture by security for as long as possibly, continuing to plague live sports to this day.
The excitement you feel as you come up with your plan, the anticipation leading up to your big reveal, the sheer rush of adrenaline you must feel leaping over the barrier and terror as you realise 5 big burly men are running after you with the intent to grapple and slam you to an immediate halt. The small amount of momentary fame you receive in front of a crowd and the lifetime of worn-out stories you can tell. All of these emotions one must feel as they interject into an event must be hard to process, and in some ways seem rather enticing. Even to someone as risk adverse as me.
But the injuries you may receive, the backlash from the fans in attendance, the fines you may have to pay and the legal proceedings you might face. Your own mother may be watching at home. What will she think as she witnesses her little boy waddling onto the pitch, his rather unimpressive features flapping about like a jack russels ear. Not a great look. Especially when combined, these reasons are more than enough to keep me and most fans of live entertainment like me, well behind the guard rail, able to enjoy the performances from a safe distance. But that doesn’t change the fact that there is a small percentage out there, and always will be, who believe the risks are worth the reward.
Chris Jericho is a man who has always revelled in his ability to draw true hatred from a crowd. His under-handed tactics, smarmy personality and ego have always rubbed fans the wrong way. Leading to Le Champion, having a career filled with engrossing and memorable runs as a villain. As a man who has never shied away from the abuse he receives from fans, he has at the same time been involved in his fair share of incidents which in many opinions went too far.
Wrestling thousands of matches in hundred of cities across decades, means that during this time Jericho has truly witnessed it all. From close calls of fans attempting to interrupt his promos at house shows. To delivering swift retribution to one unlucky fan via a swift jab during the attitude era.
This is something what has continued through much of Jericho’s long time in pro wrestling. Most recently in Miami, during a Road Rager addition of AEW Dynamite. As MJF was on the microphone and Chris Jericho’s music hit for his entrance, one fan’s hatred for the first AEW champion boiled over into madness.
The All Elite cameras quickly shifted focus as something clearly unscripted was taking place which the television audience wasn’t supposed to see. A fan attempting to attack Chris, but falling pitifully short. He ran towards Jericho but was met by the arenas security and received a whiff of a punch from Le Champion before being wrestled out to the back.
The fan explained that his attack was in service to his lord and saviour JC. But of course in pro wrestling we aren’t talking about Jesus Christ, but the polarising figure of Jim Cornette. Who had been vocal in the weeks leading up to the attack about his dislike for AEW and their product. However, this fan took Cornette’s patented brand of sarcasm and over-the-top reactions a little too seriously. But sadly the crazed fan did not get the response he was expecting.
“Got news for you dips**t, the ring is sacred ground for US, and even if you and a lot of others THINK you can kick the s**t out of the Young Bucks, I would have turned you into a tennis racket popsicle, & you’re lucky someone there didn’t gut you like a fish. And you’re blocked.”
To further rub salt into the injury, Chris Jericho later tweeted his thoughts on what had happened: “Do you really think Jim Cornette would condone this you fu**in loser? Jimmy would’ve shoved a tennis racket up your ass and smashed your car windows.”
So bad luck all round for this guy.
For this next part, I’d like to take a step back and show respect to a true icon of pro wresltling history and allow Scott Hall to explain how thing went down. After all, he and his big boot were there at the time.
“Me and Hulk are on one side; this dude gets over the railing – past security – inside the ring, and there’s big Kev’ waiting…Dude, you’re out of luck now…I can’t imagine what this mark was thinking…[yokel voice] ‘Wehl, I’m gunna git’ dose guys…’ He probably thinks security’s going to stop him, so he can tell all his buddies, ‘Well, I tried to, man…’ No, man…security didn’t get you – you’re in the ring; NOW whatcha gonna do? “Kev’ knocked this cat OUT! Now the dude’s down, and me being the prick that I am, I hear this commotion behind me. I look over and go, ‘Kev’ – is that a mark-?’ I start putting the boots to this guy, full shoot! In my opinion, the fans are allowed to yell and cheer and boo all you want – you’re not allowed to touch the wrestlers, you’re not allowed to throw stuff at the wrestlers, and you’re CERTAINLY not allowed to go over the barricade into the ring. Once you come into the ring, we don’t know if you got a gun, a knife, or whatever. And guess what – that’s what I do for a living, man. Yeah, it might be ‘fake,’ but all I gotta do is turn the volume up a little bit, and it starts becoming REAL. So, that dude in Daytona, wherever you are – thank you. It was fun stomping on your face. I hope you learned your lesson.”
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Another man who was a fundamental part of why I enjoyed World Championship Wrestling as I was growing up in the late 90s, was Raven. His mysterious presence and uber cool for the time ripped denim and plaid shirts made me take notice. Raven’s hair obscured part of his face and his words obscured part of his intentions. A cult like figure who delivered his speeches whilst casually sat against the ring’s turnbuckle pads.
But, this captivating performer was not without his detractors. One of whom made his feelings clearly known when he jumped the barricade whilst Raven was addressing the crowd from the ring.
With his back turned, Raven could not have predicted the attackers intentions, as he continued on with his rhetoric, the fan had rushed up behind him. Grabbing onto Raven’s defining curly locks and dragging him from the ring.
The fan was lept upon by security who pulled him from view of the crowd and cameras as the show rolled on. Raven, staying 100% in character simply got back to his feet, brushed himself off, climbed into the ring and carried on. Not allowing the fan to receive his attention and showing that nothing could break his professional approach to story-telling. A true class act. The WCW even attempted to play the clearly unscripted fan attack into a feud. Where they had Raven attacked again in the weeks that followed and this time revealed the attacker to be Kris Kanyon who was set up for a forgettable feud which ultimately turned into nothing.
Not all attacks which happen from the crowd are attempted with a punch or a kick. Some crafty bastards with a keen eye and a good arm are able to act like a medieval trebuchet and bombard the performers in the ring with projectiles.
Scott Hall once got hit cleanly in the head with what we’d all like to hope was a drink, but many have speculated may have been a cup of urine. No matter. Ever the professional, Scott Hall handled the moment perfectly. Using the extra liquid to comb back his hair. Staying in character with barely a flinch. The legend is probably one of the only pro wrestlers ever who has managed to continue to look cool after being slammed with a coke.
During the No Way Out pay-per-view in 2001. Following the finish to a wicked Stone Cold and Triple H three stages of hell match. Both men were understandably exhausted, slumping in a pile on the canvas. Traditionally Stone Cold would be thrown a beer following his matches, so he could crack a cold one and pose for the crowd. However, at this moment a fan decided that they would be the one to supply the booze and threw a beer can into the ring at Steve Austin.
“We were laying there and someone threw a beer over. I guess to throw me one to drink and I was laying there selling that some bi*ch hit me right dead square in the forehead.” Steve Austin
Extreme Championship Wrestling was just that. The presentation of the show, the wrestlers and the fans themselves all lived up to the companies name. We are all familiar with the idea that a pro wrestler may grab a drink or a chair from the crowd and use it as a weapon during the match.
However, just like everything else, ECW took this idea a few steps further, with wrestlers asking the crowd to bring items to upcoming events to be used within a match. A cheese grater there a foam finger there. You get the idea. At Hardcore Heaven in 1994 during a match which featured industry legends Mick Foley and Terry Funk, when the two politely requested a chair from the audience. But, of course, the ECW fans took the request to the extreme.
With swathes of the audience standing up and folding their metal chair before throwing it into the ring. At first a few and then many. Before the wrestlers were caught in a downpour of metal chairs, bouncing off the ropes, flying in from all angles. A truly iconic moment, which for security reasons we will never see the likes of again.
Roman Reigns MITB Briefcase
In August of 2015, during a street fight match in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt were facing off, when a member of the audience threw a replica money in the bank briefcase into the air, clipping Reigns on the back of his head. This man is a unit. A physical specimen. But still the blow took Reigns by surprise as he has his back turned to his attacker. He needed to recover and slumped down in the corner of the ring for a few minutes.
“I was confused at first. I thought bray hit me in the head with the kendo stick. So immediately i was like, ‘aww man. You’re about to get it, brother. You’re about to get your butt whooped,’ but then I looked down, and I could see the briefcase. So then i’m trying to piece this thing together. If you see the video, you see me stand up to where I kind of got a little bit hot. Once I was able to process the situation in a matter of seconds, I knew what needed to be done, and our security team took care of it.” Roman Reigns
The crowd were loudly chanting for security to “Kick him out” with all in agreement that what he had done was a step too far. One of those boxes hitting you at speed, spinning and catching you on the corner, that could cause an injury. And they are expensive replicas for what they are. Why would someone go onto the WWE shop, buy one, wait for it to be delivered, take it to a show and then throw it. When you lay out that course of events, it gives us an incite into the small mind of this person. Unthinking and rather selfish, reports say that security did into take action and pull the man, in a rather forceful manner away from his chair so that the wrestling match could continue.
“IT WAS JUST A BAD CHOICE BY A 31-YEAR-OLD MAN, THROWING BRIEFCASES AT ENTERTAINERS WHILE THEY’RE BUSTING THEIR [BUTT] FOR YOU. EVERYBODY WAS ON TOP OF IT. HE WAS ESCORTED OUT, BRIEFLY AFTER, AND LUCKILY FOR ME, THE BRIEFCASE WAS PLASTIC, SO IT DIDN’T HURT, BUT IT’S SCARY. WHAT IF IT WAS SOMETHING THAT COULD HAVE HURT ME. HIT ME IN THE EYE.” Roman Reigns
Jesús Alfonso Huerta Escoboza started his wrestling journey in Senora Mexico in 1987 and the desire and passion which he showed as a young man when he first stepped into a lucha libre ring, continued to burn within him until his last days. Since the early 2000s Escoboza performed as enmascerado or masked wrestler.
The La Parka character was originally conceived by Adolfo Margarito Tapia Ibarra, and is for most American and European wrestling fans, the version you will most likely be familiar with for his run in WCW in the 90s.
When the original La Parka character left Triple A and joined their rivals CMLL, Escaboza took the character and made it his own. Following a lengthy legal battle and a match at Triple Mania, Escoboza won the rights to fight under his now iconic sketelon mask under the now infamous name of La Parka.
The Mask or The Costume, as The direct English translation brought with him to the ring a sense of pure entertainment, spectacle and above all else a light hearted comedic spin on lucha libre.
From his hilarious dance moves and ability to communicate without words, or fourth-wall-breaking offence. La Parka always stood out, and not just because of his legendary escaletto costume.
Loved by so many Mexican wrestling fans, Escoboza would go on to wear the La Parka costume for more than 20 years. In which time he would go on to achieve victories in both the Triplemanía and Antonio Peña Cup, as well as being crowned the King Of Kings by Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide.
One of the fundamental parts of La Parka’s character, derives from the mystery of his mask. A hidden identity is something to be respected in the world of Lucha Libre and an enmascarado must always protect their face with their mask. It is expected that any performer with an ounce of dignity would also respect the masked luchador’s desire to remain anonymous and should never resort to pulling or attempting to remove said mask. So, when during a match La Parka felt his face covering being tugged from behind, he did what was necessary to maintain his anonymity. Turning and delivering a swift punch to the man who was foolish enough to attempt to break this sacred Mexican tradition.
However, it was not one of his opponents in the match which had pulled on La Parka’s mask, but instead a rather dim-witted fan. Who had completely over stepped the invisible boundary between the performers and the crowd and in his attempt to interject himself into the match in the most disrespectful way possible, had put himself into a position of real danger. Perhaps this was not in fact a lucha fan, but someone who was tagging along with his friends and maybe consumed one too many coronas. It could have been his first show, or maybe he was simply an idiot. Whatever drove this man to such a reckless act in front of a crowd full of lucha fans is beyond me. What I do know however, is that in one moment this fan decided that he wanted to go home with a precious souvenir from the event and instead went home with a black eye and his tail tucked firmly between his legs.
This would not prove to be the darkest moment of La Parka’s carer as this fairy-tale story, as you have probably worked out from it’s inclusion in this video. Came to a horrific and terrible end.
CM Punk is currently enjoying a run as one of AEW top stars, after successfully returning to the ring after a decade long absence. Through the independent wrestling scene and onto becoming integral during Ring Of Honors golden era, CM Punk exploded into the mainstream conscious when he signed a contract with the industry’s biggest brand WWE. There he had huge success and became one of the most popular pro wrestlers of all time on his way to well deserved runs with the companies top belts. With the CM Punk character and to an extent the man behind the persona, has always come a brash confidence and singular focus which has proven to the dislike of some fans.
This animosity from some portion of the audience, paired with his veteran status in the industry, meant CM Punk has always held a certain level of distance with fans. Yes, you’d see him at meet and greets and mixing up with people on social media. But there has always been a certain cold side to the performer.
Never has this more been evident, than in 2012 on Monday Night Raw. Following a match against Ryback in October, CM Punk was left being scolded by Vince McMahon in the ring as the WWE Champion made his exit through hoards of exciteable Californian fans.
"I think the whole situation sucks," "It’s an unfortunate and isolated incident. I was up in the stands, surrounded. Somebody said, 'let’s push him down the stairs, I got hit in the ribs three times. I was getting shoved and I was getting punched…Then I started getting tagged in the back of the head. Unfortunately, I lashed out in the heat of the moment and I apologize. I’m really just glad nobody was hurt." CM PUNK
A WWE statement on the incident read “During last night’s Raw televised event, WWE Superstar CM Punk exited the ring into the stands as part of the show. WWE security was unfortunately not in the appropriate place at the time. Given CM Punk’s persona as a ‘bad guy,’ fans were naturally heckling him, but unfortunately a few fans began shoving him and one struck in him in the kidney and on the back. WWE regrets that proper security measures were not in place, and CM Punk apologizes for reacting in the heat of the moment. Other than this isolated incident, WWE always provides proper security to ensure the safety of our fans and our performers.”
Perhaps luckily for Punk, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department had no course for action as the man who was punched neither showed any signs of injury, nor desired to press charges.
“My first reaction is it bums me out, that anybody would want to do that. A lot of people might think I’m comparing two things that aren’t really alike but honestly, the first thing that popped into mind is when Dimebag Darrell got shot on stage. What if that dude had a knife? What if that dude had a gun? We don’t know and it sucks that anybody would want to do that. Security to me, isn’t at fault because if somebody wants to do something that stupid, chances are if they’re that methodical about it they’re going to get it done. It sucks. It sucks that as performers that is still one of the things we have to worry about instead of just trying to entertain everybody.” CM PUNK
Scott Steiner is a man who has suffered his fair share of controversies. Over such a long career, from WCW, WWE and Impact Wrestling. Steiner has been around such a vast time, that his outspoken persona and enormous ego have sporadically gotten him into trouble with wrestling fans and promoters alike. He was even banned from attended Wrestlemania one year after a heated altercation with Hulk Hogan where big poppa pump threatened the Hulksters life.
During a more recent match, for the promotion TMW Scott came out to the ring in an even more volatile mood than normal. After a fan at the barricade shouted in his ear, Steiner snapped and turned around to confront the loud audience member.
Showing that it was all in good fun, the crowd smiles and shouts more, getting into the atmosphere expected from such a wrestling event. But for some reason, Steiner didn’t want to hear it. Pushing the fan hard in the face and away from the barricade.
The bald guy standing next to them is seemingly most effected, his large ‘woah’ a perfect summation of how most of us wrestling fans feel watching this footage. Steiner is a true veteran of the industry. Regardless of what you think of him personally, the man has had a career in pro wrestling most performers could only dream about. So, to that point, he should have the ability to better control his emotions. He has been in this situation countless times, as have many pro wrestlers with such long careers. So why did this one fan push Steiner over the limit? Or was it something else which triggered Steiner’s actions and he was simply taking out frustration on the unfortunate fan?
He made his way into the ring clearly in a miserable mood, shouting into the microphone about hating this particular version of his theme song and then throwing the mouth piece onto the ground.
Another man who has made a career from antagonising the crowd, is Bubba Ray Dudley. A man whom many pro wrestlers consider to be the man who was best at drawing hatred from an audience through his degrading put downs and clever come backs to fan chants. So good at making wrestling crowds angry is Bubba Ray that on several occasions, the animocity has boiled over and become physical.
At Heatwave in 1997, The Dudley Boyz were possibly the most hated tag team on the planet. As they made their way to the ring with the ECW Tag Titles around their waste, the fans felt nothing short of hatred towards the pairing.
Bubba Ray with microphone in hand, used it more like a conductors wand. He calls a woman a skankasaurus which always gets a laugh from me. Starts to run down the local area and gets in a few verbal shots on a man in the crowd with a bright hawaiin shirt on. The fans are rabid and Bubba Ray could feel that things were going to another level.
Leaving the ring to get in the face of some fans resulted in foul language being shouted back and fourth. But when Bubba Ray grabs a drink and throws it into a man’s face, it looked as if the Dudley Boyz could soon be evading a riot.
Without fear, Bubba Ray continued to rile up the crowd, daring some of the bigger audience members to come and take a shot. Luckily, the match got underway soon after and ECW managed to push the crowd to the limit, without having several casualties to contend with.
More recently, Bubba Ray was grabbed and punched by a fan leaning over the barrier. Leading to security and arena staff intervening as the wrestler proved more calm than in his earlier days. Which, for all concerned, is probably for the best.
LUCHA DESTROYS 5 YEAR OLD
As children, many of us look up to actors, musicians and athletes as idols and role models. And in Mexico so many young wrestling fans admire their favourite luchadores and revere them as heroes. That is what makes this next horrible incident all the more shocking.
During an unsanctioned wrestling event in Venustiano Carranza in Mexico City, 'Einar El Vikingo' (Einar The Viking) found himself on the wrong end of a defeat at the hands of a fellow local luchadore. Dejected, The Viking slumped down on the pavement next to where his unsuccessful match had just taken place.
Simultaneously, whilst seemingly caught up in the emotions we all felt as children watching pro wrestling, a small boy runs over as if to console the wrestler and wrap his arms around his neck for a hug. However, the young boy, Mateo who at the time was only 5 years old made a huge mistake. One which at that young age, he surely can’t be blamed for. The young attacker tightened his grip around Einar’s neck and began to jokingly choke the downed luchadore.
This is when the wrestler quickly jumped back to his feet and responded to the small boys choke by slinging him round like a wet tracksuit, twisting his arm and sending the poor lad slumping down hard into the tarmac.
The Viking, whose real name is Einar Cruz was arrested shortly after when members of the young boys family informed the Mexico City Police of the incident. However, the 21 year old wrestler was shortly released, with the Attorney General of Justice of Mexico City Ernestina Godoy Ramos explaining that “Einar Cruz had to be released shortly afterward, because the boy's injuries were minor and not enough to charge him at the time.”
The violent outburst made local news and people were rightly outraged at what they had witnessed on a video which had now gone viral. Mateo's grandmother Sandra Alvarez told a press conference:
"I was really upset that he grabbed my grandson. I yelled at him 'what's going on?' and he yelled back at me. Then my nephew and my brother stepped in, and then everybody started crowding around him. As you can see from the video, there was no police there to detain him. That's not right when there's a child involved."
He may not have felt the full force of the law following his attack, but Einar Cruz was ridiculed publicly by his local community and banned for life by the Mexico City Wrestling Commission, forbidding him from ever performing in a legally licenced match in the area ever again.
Nowadays some crafty fans see WWE’s huge international platform as a place to promote themselves. In London a group called Troll Station, a name which as embarrassing as their actions, broke into the WWE show and attempted to film a YouTube video in the process. Their videos were taken down and all that remains is these grainy phone camera images which show the un-funny comedy group sliding into the ring before being dragged around like a wet trackie by security. Well done. I’m sure that brought loads of eyes to your wonderful brand of entertainment Troll Station.
“I’m a character and a sports entertainer and a wrestler, but I’m also a father and a husband and a provider. so for me that’s scary, because I’m just going out there to put on a good show and provide for my family and take care of my future, and if somebody takes that away from me… for what? for 10 seconds of internet fame. that’s tough to deal with. that’s hard to process.” Roman Reigns
And this quote I feel really drives home the reasons as to why fans should never attempt to interject into the proceedings. No matter how much a person thinks they deserve the limelight. How much there are emotionally incensed or furiously angry. It just isn’t worth all of the pain, damage and criminal risk for something which nobody want to see at a wrestling show anyways. Please stop it!
"Honestly, I think there should be a law passed in every major city that has an arena that if you are a fan and you jump wherever on the field, on the floor, on the ice, pick your spot and you go after an athlete, you should not be able to press charges against anybody for anything." Eric Bischoff
But saying all of that will change little. There will always be that one idiot who is out to spoil the fun for everyone else. So, as we have so small sense of power to effect any real change, we must make sure to promise ourselves that collectively as a wrestling community and singularly as a wrestling fan, you will never personally attempt to jump the barrier at a wrestling show. And in the mean time we can always enjoy the videos of security dealing out a smackdown of their own to anyone still dumb enough to try.
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